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Cam Green’s  Maine Central circa 1980
     January 18, 2020

  by Lee Stoermer

It's March of 2017. You have some space and an idea. By November 2018 that idea is coming to life. Then by November 2019 your idea is functioning and is into fine tuning and decorating. Some model railroaders take years to get from their design phase to running the first train. Cam Green has gone from a raw layout room that day in March 2017 to an operations-themed railroad model with significant amounts of scenery in just over two years. He attributes this to having planned his layout over time before actually deciding on a firm concept and acquiring the space. Dedicating time towards the layout, even 30 minutes in the morning before work, or in small batches each evening, was instrumental in the steady progress.

Cam grew up in the area he models in Maine, centered around Yarmouth and Augusta, and says he has fond memories of being trackside in the area. He uses historical records, photos and books to get that recognizable look. Most town trackage is very close as to placement and utilization. While it may not be completely exact, he goes for the close-enough feel that you can easily tell where it is, if you are familiar with it.

Cam's HO Scale layout is 28 feet by 48 feet in an L shape, located in his finished basement. Flooring is in place utilizing interlocking rubber floor mats. Benchwork is typical box girder sections of 1"x3" and 1"x4" lumber, with shelving L brackets used for the upper level supports. Lowest level is at 36" and the upper level tops out at 52". These heights were selected for personal comfort based on visiting other layouts. A helix is used to travel between the two operating levels and a lower level staging yard. Lighting is by 4K LED light strips that are mounted around the room, giving a well- lit, even coverage.

Roadbed is a combination of a few different materials. In some yard areas, some of the interlocking floor matting that was leftover was used as sub- roadbed, then cork roadbed placed on it. This does give a definite improvement in sound deadening while not letting good product go to waste.

Track is a mix of code 83 Atlas, Micro Engineering and Peco brands, secured with DAP clear adhesive. Cam has selected Micro Engineering Code 83 turnouts for their over center spring action, without powering any frogs, preferring to keep electrical issues to a minimum. There is only one powered turnout which is located at a remote spot where reaching in is troublesome and could cause damage to scenery or rolling stock.

Operations are conducted using car cards, which are still being phased into use and massaged to balance car utilization around the layout. Eight single person crews and a dispatcher can keep busy for several hours. A future potential conversion to 'Ship-It' is being considered. Command Control system of choice is the DCC system by Digitrax. Many locomotives have sound installed in them. Rolling stock and locomotives all operate smoothly. All rolling stock and locomotives are properly serviced before being placed into operation. Checking weight, wheels checked for proper gauge and coupler operation are all key. Kadee #5 couplers are added as they are less finicky than semi scale versions which is a definite plus for an operations themed layout. All plastic clone couplers are also replaced as they do not tend to hold up as well in operations, or with Cam's average train lengths of 20 plus cars. Several operating sessions have been held which continues to help hone operations, both in the physical plant as well as the operating scheme.

Rolling stock is a varied mix of Atlas, Walthers and others, with Accurail being among his favorite for its detail level and ability to stand up to ops sessions. Most locomotives are Atlas RS11, GP 38 and GP7, as found on MEC rosters and paint schemes. These have been found to have a better level of pulling power and consistent gearing. One other item is weathering. About 50% of what is already in use is weathered and Cam is striving to increase that percentage before adding anything new onto the layout.

Scenery is currently about 30% complete. Although by the time I write this, and then again by the time you are read this, I suspect that percentage will have grown again. Several areas of lower level scenery were completed first, then upper levels. Cam has decided it's better to finish the upper level areas with the messier parts of scenery as he has learned it is easier to work on the upper level with a clear lower level and no structures or trees in the way to prevent damage or falling blobs of plaster, as well as to avoid having to cover them all up. Scenery is typical mix of hydrocal, plaster gauze, foam and static grass. Water is done with gloss mod podge in several layers. Backgrounds are self-painted tree lines by dabbing brush or sponges in varying shades, thereby giving an impression without any details. Some photos may be added for structures in areas as desired.

While Cam's era of the of summer 1980 (1976-1984 is his range) makes for an all diesel fleet, he has mentioned that the railroad did recently acquire a steam locomotive, which has proven to be a bit finicky on some small pieces of the otherwise excellent trackwork. Some minor adjustments to the locomotive and trackwork should iron this out. This steam locomotive is expected to be placed into service on the layout as a future excursion service.

Besides the potential electronic switch list program, the future looks for continued scenery and structures, many of which need either scratch built or significant kitbashing. There are a few track realignment programs planned as any railroad realizes during changes in customers needs. An expansion is also contemplated, pending approval of the right of way negotiations, into another area of the basement.

We've included some photos from Cam's layout with this open house review. But be careful, because if you don't have photos to remember what his layout looks like today, should you visit it next week or month, you may not recognize it from the rapid pace of continued progress. A recurring comment repeatedly heard from attendees was, "All this in two years?" Why yes, yes indeed.

Photos by Lee Stoermer (LS) or Wayland Moore (WM)